I’ve had an abiding interest in families of children with disabilities. I began graduate school as a developmental psychologist studying typical development, However, as a Fellow of the NIH program in mental retardation I took many disability-related courses, one of them was taught by a professor who was a mother of a child with severe retardation. I became very close with that family. Over the course of my graduate studies, I became fascinated by children with mental retardation, in the context of their families and schools. At UCR my first NIH grant, in 1982, was focused on understanding families and severe disabilities, as well as the recent federal mandate for schooling for all handicapped children. I subsequently followed these 100 families for 22 years, from early childhood to young adulthood, and studied the critical life stages (e.g. out of home placement,the transition to adulthood). I also studied several other longitudinal samples of families with a child with mental retardation, including a large Latino sample in an effort to understand the role of culture in family adjustment. Over the past decade I have worked collaboratively with colleagues at two other universities to conduct a NIH-supported longitudinal study focused on the question of why children and adolescents with mental retardation are at such heightened risk for mental disorder.
Overlapping these research studies has been 20 years of clinical work on behalf of families of children with autism. As autism grew from being a rare disorder affecting 1 in 2,500 children to today’s epidemic-like level of 1 in 150, I began to focus research on their families. I became aware of the fact that Latino families experience autism differently from Anglo families, and that they certainly receive services differently – often fewer of them. My interest in the cultural context of autism led me to develop SEARCH at UCR. SEARCH [Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, Hope] provides educational and advocacy services to families of children with autism, focusing on low-income and/or Latino families. SEARCH also facilitates training of professionals to work with such families, and serves as the nexus for research into questions that can inform service delivery policy.
Blacher, J., & Baker, B.L. (2007). Positive impact of intellectual disability on families. American Journal on Mental Retardation. 112, 330-348.
Blacher, J., & Hatton, C. (2007). Families in context: Influences on coping and adaptation. In S.L. Odom,R.H. Horner, M.E. Snell, & J. Blacher (Eds.), Handbook on Developmental Disabilities (pp. 531-551).Guilford Press.
Krraemer, B.R. & Blacher, J. (in press). Transition for Hispanic and Anglo youth with severe intellectual disability: Parent perspectives across two time points. Journal on Developmental Disabilities.
Blacher, J., & McIntyre, L.L. (2006) Syndrome specificity and behavioural disorders in young adults with intellectual disability: Cultural differences in family impact. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50,349-361.
Eisenhower, A. S., Baker, B. L., & Blacher, J. (2005). Preschool children with intellectual disability:Syndrome specificity, behavior problems, and maternal well-being. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research,49, 657-671.